The Back Nine: Bedlam in the bayou


The Back Nine returns after a wild weekend with a look at the trip to Baton Rouge, the Sox-less baseball playoffs and even a little golf thrown in for flavoring.

Tiger fans were quite boisterous - before seeing their offense. Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Tiger fans were quite boisterous - before seeing their offense. Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

1. The Back Nine has to tell you that the atmosphere for Florida-LSU was what everyone expected. It was electric from the start. The police used a helicopter to survey the campus and estimated 180,000 people where there before the game. And all of them were in front of our car. On my list of most difficult places to get in and out of in college football LSU would rank third behind Auburn and Penn State. One more reason to love Game Day in Gainesville. One thing about that record crowd — when Florida would pick up a first down it would be so quiet you could hear Les Miles grinding his teeth.

2. And nice move by LSU to announce the day before the game that offensive coordinator Gary Crowton was getting a $50,000 raise to $450,000 a year. And then his offense produces 44 second-half yards and scores three points. Timing wasn’t good. Meanwhile, FSU’s coach-in-waiting is now 18-14 as FSU’s offensive coordinator. The biggest question in the universe isn’t, “What is the meaning of life?” It’s “Why is Charlie Strong not a head coach somewhere?”

Andra Davis (54) escaped from Cleveland. AP
Andra Davis (54) escaped from Cleveland. AP

3. Go back to Sept. 4. Go ahead, I’ll wait. You there? OK, Oregon has just suffered a humiliating loss to Boise State compounded by an Oregon player punching a Boise player and former coach Mike Bellotti descending from the press box to give Chip Kelly advice. Meanwhile in Denver, Josh McDaniels is being ripped daily for blowing it with Jay Cutler and struggling with Brandon Marshall. So which coach would you least like to be on Sept. 5? Fast forward to today and you see Oregon at 5-1 and ranked 13th and Denver is 5-0. It goes back to the 11th Commandment — Thou shalt let the season play out. It has to make the Gator Nation happy to see Andra Davis, who has been through so much with injuries, playing his tail off at linebacker for a surprising Broncos defense.

4. So you’re a quarterback and you get a choice. Which pass defense would you most like to go up against — Georgia’s or Georgia Tech’s? The two schools rank 97th and 98th, respectively, in Div. 1-A in pass defense. And the only reason Tech is that high is that FSU dropped a bunch of passes in the loss Saturday night. Are they feeding those young men too many peaches in Georgia? There wasn’t a lot of defense on the field in Tallahassee and I don’t want to hear that Tech’s offense is difficult to prepare for in a week. FSU just doesn’t have the defensive talent it used to. The Semis rank 108th in total defense. Mickey Andrews, time for you to go, too.

Riley Cooper's "sick" catch-and-release touchdown. Tricia Coyne/The Gainesville Sun
Riley Cooper's "sick" catch-and-release touchdown. Tricia Coyne/The Gainesville Sun

5. On my awful flight home from Baton Rouge (we turned around because of a faulty door latch, then sat on a runway in Atlanta for 20 minutes), one of the officials who worked the Florida-LSU game was a passenger. Tiger fans were giving him a hard time for all of those offsides calls. He said he could have called more because LSU simply could not line up out of the neutral zone. He even joked with one defender that his helmet was going to be covered in blue because the scrimmage line on TV is marked in that color. He also said the official who missed the call on Riley Cooper’s slingshot move past Chris Hawkins on Florida’s only touchdown was sick about missing the call. “He got sight-lined,” the official said. In other words, the way the receiver and defensive back were lined up as Cooper went down the field, the official couldn’t see Cooper use his hand to pull past Hawkins.

6. I have no trouble with anyone who votes in any of the polls voting for Alabama No. 1. Nick Saban’s team looks very impressive and has a better non-conference win than Florida. The only question I have is this — those of you who switched from Florida to Alabama this week, was Alabama’s win over a one-loss Ole Miss team by 19 really that much more impressive than Florida’s 10-point win over undefeated LSU? And I can promise you the Gators were in a tougher environment than the Tide. “Our players said that was the loudest crowd they have heard in a long time,” Strong told the Back Nine. Doesn’t really matter who is No. 1 or No. 2 or No. 3. If Florida and Alabama take care of business it will be settled on the turf in Atlanta.

7. If you are a Yankees fan, it doesn’t get much better than Sunday. You complete a sweep of the plucky Twins on the same day the Red Sox are swept because Jonathan Papelbon can’t get one stinking out. Hey, the best two teams in the American League should be in the championship series. Boston was just too erratic this season. And where do the Red Sox go from here with a team that is really old? Should be an interesting offseason.

Gun-shy slinger Jevan Snead seems to have lost his confidence. AP photo
Gun-shy slinger Jevan Snead seems to have lost his confidence. AP photo

8. One more college football note: Which SEC team is more of a disappointment — Ole Miss or Georgia? The Bulldogs look like they are heading for the Music City Bowl after being picked to finish second behind Florida in the East. But Ole Miss? A lot of us felt Ole Miss was overrated entering the season but its schedule set up so well it was hard not to pick them to be a contender. But I don’t think anyone saw Jevan Snead’s collapse coming.

9. Hey, we won the Presidents Cup. We almost always win the Presidents Cup. And I know why. The International team is as talented as the annual Euros Ryder Cup teams, but those guys on the European Tour bond all year and they treat it seriously. Our team tends to tighten up in the Ryder Cup. But in the Presidents Cup, everyone gets along. Most of the International players are full-time PGA Tour players. There is no animosity. That’s my theory anyway. You’re probably just thinking, “Who cares? It’s college football season.” Point taken.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at and follow at


  1. Every fan in Arkansas did. I know Arkansas is a lower tier west team from a small town in a small state that is not really even an SEC team by Florida standards, so who cares, BUT, had anyone east of the Mississippi been paying any attention they would have known the day Nutt was hired was Snead’s worst day since conception. Nutt is the Quarterback killer. Yeah, Matt Jones was an Arkansas kid that Nutt tried to redshirt until he was headed for the toilet and Stoerner had Joe Ferguson before Nutt got there if anyone even remembers that far back, But Nutt’s history with QBs is unmatched. Running backs fine; Nutt had a real history before the soap opera that those loving the ‘did more with less’ rep never realized. He had less because he could not recruit. Ole Miss will find that out next. But, if you are a QB at Ole Miss, start looking for your next school if you don’t want the same fate as Snead.

  2. You’re right about Charlie Strong. He should be a Head Coach, without a doubt…But that’s not the end of the story.

    Why does a grateful UF pay Charlie like the kitchen staff? He’s been at Florida thru 3 head coaches with considerable success. We’ve seen this year, even more than last, just how important the Gator defense is.

    Urban earns how many $millions, while Charlie earns how many $thousands? I know Coach Strong says he’s not worried about money. How about loyalty? And where does Urban stand on the issue? He should stand for Charley Strong. By the way, How much does Monte Kiffin earn as DC at Tennessee?

  3. Great game at LSU and yes, we were missing Gainesville. We will never, ever complain about postgame traffic getting out of town again. For a supposedly big time college football program, the city’s assistance with the crowds and traffic was really lacking.

    Another note: it seems that the concept of trash cans hasn’t quite reached Baton Rouge. After the game, the campus looked like a third world country. Trash everywhere. Plates, cups, bottles, food containers, plastic bags…everything. It was absolutely disgusting. The mess there made morning on Bourbon Street look like a surgical ward. I have never seen Gainesville even come close to looking as trashy as the LSU campus after the game. The biggest laugh of the day: the huge signs entering campus – “Mike the Tiger says keep the campus clean”. Nice try.

    Ninety-nine percent of the LSU fans were great. In our nosebleed seats in the endzone the stadium didn’t seem that loud. But again, we were above the cloudline so the sound could have been muffled.

    Count yourselves fortunate, Gators, to be part of a truly “remarkable” gameday experience. We’re glad we went, and thrilled to be back in FL. Go Gators!

  4. I don’t think Nutt is the Quaterback coach. I think Ken Austin does the QB coaching and the offense. You could at times say the same thing about our Old Ball Coach if you check the records of the many QB’s and their time at Florida.

    Hotty Toddy and Go Gators.

  5. Ialso agree – pay Strong commensurate to his value to the program!

    Why so much complaing about Cooper’s “sling-shot” move? Receivers, on every team, use the same or similiar techniques. I was taught some of the tech’s in high school! Cooper had him beat anyway, because he bit on the short rout. Plus, LSU’s offensive line used holding tehniques all night and got away with it. One play, Spikes was tackled as he was about to hit their QB. My son and I counted six obvious holds as we watched the game again on Sunday. We break the games down so I can use it as a teaching tool for my son.

    Please voters, move Alabama to # 1, above us! Please! You talk about motivation – plus the pressure is a little less distracting at # 2.

  6. Charlie Strong will get a head coaching job after this year, no doubt. Or the Georgia Bulldogs may pay him millions to switch to their side because they really hate “Willie” up there. Maybe an offer from Georgia would make Florida respond with an equal or better offer for one of the best DCs in the country. But he will go to the school of his choice at HC after this year and his getting paid what he is worth issues will be a thing of the past…as will the stores of why he isn’t a head coach somewhere. It will be the Gators loss and someone else’s gain.

  7. Did the ref on the plane say anything at all about the missed holding calls? Wow there were a ton of them. Also, it is pretty irritating to hear that a ref said that he could have kept calling the offsides. If it is a penalty then you should call it!

  8. what Matt said! that is an annoying little tidbit about the ref/officiating crew member on flight. Now, I understand the game is moving lightning fast for them, with their mortal eyes, versus those of us viewing on tv (with endless replay video). However, my DOG got upset and barked at one point, because of the endless LSU holding with no flags! sure, there was plenty of times LSU sunk themselves with penalties, and there were too many points left on the field by FL, but given all they’ve been through, the hype leading up to this game, and sticking together in that atmosphere (was clear crowd noise was affecting play)- i was amazed and awfully proud of my Gators! great game! Go Gators!

  9. Defense really stepped up at LSU. Can’t explain failure of offense to even try throwing the ball down the field. Also why do we continueally send Demps & Rainey up the middle. They both need a yard or two to get going-how bout giving them that shuffle pass now going to Hernandez?

  10. You’re so right matt !! I wonder if the SEC would like to hear more of his story ? Hey it didnt matter anyway…. Lets face it , this is not your grandfathers LSU.. It seems the fans were more intimidating than the team on the field…We’re seeing the shortcomings of Les miles , his coaching & his players…they were just awful..Heck, the ol ball coach could take em’, even with the team he has now…

  11. Pat, Pat, Pat…

    How could you sit by a Ref and not ask him if they routinely make new rules mid-game regarding illegal offensive motion. Why is the center turning his head while remaining set suddenly a penalty in the 2nd half, when it was not a penalty for the first half?

  12. How much does Strong make? If it’s not over $300k he deserves a 50% raise. Nothing destroys a quality football program quicker then not having loyal, school seasoned, quality asst coaches. Mullins may be the most recent case in point. Addazio doesn’t seem to be as open-minded or as successful offensively. With Arkansas’ wide-open attack (they will score 20+) coming in, we may want to get a lot more aggressive offensively. This isn’t a conversation that Pat wants to start yet.

  13. I live in New England, so I remember hearing about Charlie Weiss being a “genius” offensive coordinator. I always responded (as a good Dolphin fan), that any coach that has Tom Brady at QB is going to look like a genius.

    Same thing with Mickey Andrews. He was a genius when he had NFL talent permeating his roster. Now that the FSU talent pool is depleted, he is no longer a “genius.”

  14. When Urban Meyer came to UF, I was somewhat concerned about Charlie Strong leaving. With the passing years and little news about attempting to keep Charlie here, I’ve become very much concerned. Thanks, Charlie, for all your great work! Go GATORS!!

  15. Yeah, I would like to know how much Florida is paying Stong…I am sure it’s not enough. I am sure Myers see in the game with LSU it was the defense that won the game!!! And can someone also tell me why Myers want play Moody more! Please tell me that. It seems if you make a mistake “once” you want get back on the field. Hmmm lets see how many times has Myers made a mistake in agreeing with the play calling.

  16. Charlie makes what Charlie makes because that what he chooses. Sort of like a teacher – you know teachers make lousy money but you become one anyway and realize it ain’t so bad having the whole Summer off. Charlie knows whatever he makes, he has one of the best gigs in the Universe. His time will come and we will miss his talents and we’ll wish he was make here making lousy money as a teacher.